BRISBANE has its well documented Eagle Farm problems. And Townsville too has something a little similar.

Difference is that Brisbane has Doomben just over the road as a standby. Nearest track to Townsville is Home Hill – hardly a Cup Carnival fill-in!

But while many jockeys and trainers fear the worst for the upcoming Cluden carnival that kicks off in a fortnight, the Townsville Turf Club chairman is not overly concerned.

Mal Petrofski is awaiting the arrival of new machinery that he says will clear the rubbish from underneath the surface at Cluden that is causing considerable problems to the drainage system of the new $6 million track.

“This new machine is coming up from Melbourne and will do the trick,” said Mal, with an air of confidence.

Last Thursday leading jockeys complained the track was ‘like concrete’ because the club had decided not to irrigate in the days leading up to race day.

“We have had a problem with water being trapped on top of the turf and that causes kickback of clods and the track races in places like a Heavy 8 rating,” said the chairman who has also placed a ban on jump-outs and course proper gallops.

Horses can only work alone on the outside of the course proper once a week which is not ideal for trainers, which the chairman fully understands.

However, he has bravely allayed fears that the Cluden track is under a cloud and that the carnival is in jeopardy.

Petrofski said last night: “I am confident we will have the track in the best possible condition for the RSL 2YO Classic on the first day and the Townsville Cup on the last day with the guidance of RQ expert Michael Hudson and careful rail movements and track usage we will get through to the last on Cup day.

“A bit of rain will help but Hudson is confident we can overcome the problems and have a good racing surface for our carnival.

“It will then go into recess for a complete overhaul,” he said.

WHAT is in doubt are the Townsville Amateurs that were scheduled for August 28. No new date has been allocated and RQ claims the race meeting schedule is already complete – in other words – no hope.

It could be the death-knell for the century old North Queensland Amateur Club (NQATC) and sadly Townsville has also lost a valuable Saturday race date.

You have to ask if RQ is really out to help or be a hindrance to country clubs. Really how difficult is it to slot in a race date and or change of distance or conditions of a race that is deemed by most to be unsuitable?  Did they change the distance of the Straddie?

Do you think RQ is flavour of the month in the north?

It is not only the Townsville Amateurs date that has got up the nose of more than a few. The powers that be have added a 2000m weight-for-age race to the TTC program on July 15 – and claim it was a club request that has been totally denied.

Why would anyone wish to run a weight-for-age race two weeks before the Cup? It is a race that should be used as a ballot-free entry for unqualified horses – not weight-for-age performers.

What a waste!

Why change a lead-up program that has been set in stone for years and has always guaranteed a full Cup field?



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